Being on time with young children is a learned task. Just like tying your shoes or making your bed.
Teaching kids to be on time, is a process that takes practice and preparation.
In our house timeliness is a conversation. We talked about being on time loooong before we required them to be responsible for themselves.
2 -3 years old:
At about 2.5 – 3 years of age we talked about where we were going and what time we needed to leave the house in order to be on time. We would point to the clock on the microwave in the kitchen and let the kids know how many minutes until we needed to get in the car. Then at the time we wanted to head to the car we pointed again. Sometimes, setting the timer on the microwave helped get the kids excited. Once they were familiar with those concepts we added “shoe time”.
3 – 5 years old:
Post a morning task list on the fridge for the kids to see. Talk about the list and have the kids refer to it. Use the phrase, “it’s time to _____” When the kids were younger our goal was to have their shoes on 15 minutes before we wanted to head out the door. This helped us to avoid any hurried spazziness and was also referenced on the clock. They couldn’t tell time yet. We were just introducing the concept of referring to the clock for your cue as to when to perform which tasks prior to leaving the house. Once we got in the car, we pointed to the clock in the car and told them how long it would take us to get to the destination and what time we should arrive. The purpose was to make the kids aware of the process. The kids will start to remember the routine and be able to perform several of the tasks on their own.
5 & up:
Once the kids are old enough to take on responsibility on their own, we gave them a checklist a more grown-up looking checklist of what they had to do in order to get themselves ready. They have a list posted on the fridge of their tasks. This really helped the kids be aware of their responsibilities. It also saved me from having to think for them. In our house, once the kids were in kindergarten, they were responsible for the following.
- Making cereal for breakfast
- Cleaning up after themselves
- Making their lunch using the *Ziploc® brand Containers with the Smart Snap® Seal divided rectangle containers.
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- Brushing teeth
- Packing bakpack
- Coat & Shoes
We practiced letting the kids get ready on their own when our arrival time was not important (going to the park, hikes, etc.) until they got used to the expectations. Then we had them time themselves to see how long it took to go through the checklist. With that information, we were able to teach them how to know “when to get ready” At first they needed an hour. After 2 years, they can get ready in about 45 minutes.
Teaching your children how to get themselves ready in the morning is a fabulous confidence builder as well as a wonderful step towards independence. Giving them the gift of timeliness is invaluable.
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